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Do You Think Apple's iPad Will Have Much of an Impact on Enterprise IT?

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Do you think Apple's iPad will have much of an impact on enterprise IT?

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  • I am not a big believer in these in-between devices, tablets or netbooks, for that matter. They're about as expensive as a laptop, certainly from an enterprise TCO standpoint, yet they're not as convenient to carry as a smartphone, and they're not as capable (screen-size, work applications, etc) as a laptop. There will probably be a small niche for it among device addicts, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see it die off in 2 years time.

  • I've posted on this on my own blog, and I think the comparisons to netbooks are missing the point. The real question here is whether or not there is potential benefit to having a computing device with a different entry mechanism (touch screen) without the traditional "desktop" metaphor. Personally, I think there is. We've been living with the desktop and windows metaphor with keyboard and mouse input for over 20 years, and while well suited for some things, it is a limitation for others. The iPhone has shown that a touch interface can be very practical for many tasks, and this move is not about displacing laptops or netbooks, it's about creating a larger form factor for activities where the combination of touch-based interfaces, GPS, and universal connectivity may be valuable. If we simply look at it as another device for reading email or surfing the web, that's missing the point.

    The biggest risk is in how much such a device is needed within the enterprise versus outside the enterprise. I can think of many examples in the consumer space. Baseball season is coming up soon, and this form factor would be much better as an electronic scorebook for my son's little league games, and the demo'd MLB app certainly shows what could be done with it in my lap at Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game. In the enterprise, there are greater challenges for establishing context, but they certainly exist. Imagine if the building has location sensors (since GPS probably isn't good enough) and has integration with the calendar system so the device knows you're in the meeting room for a particular meeting and can now automatically present the appropriate information for you in a format that can be easily manipulated by touch only. I think there is definite potential, but to reach it, we need to stop thinking about putting an iPad in where laptops or desktops work just fine and start thinking about new ways of doing things.

  • I assume your question refers to the adoption of iPad devices in the enterprise. If that is correct then the answer is NO.

    - Few enterprise environments outside of education and/or graphic arts have contracts with Apple.

    - It is a niche product and like most Apple products is consumer not enterprise oriented.

    - For what it does it is currently relatively expensive with limited functionality.

    As Todd implied it is not the use of the iPad in the enterprise that the enterprise should be considering, but its representation as a different way to interact with customers.

  • Probably, IPad as it is will have minor impacts on Enterprises. However, it is part of a trend which finally will make the traditional desktop PC obsolete.
    The trend begun in the late 1990ies with the unsuccessful Network Computer (NC). Followed by various kinds of Hand Held such as Palm and Cellular phones. The next steps were the trend to use more mobile PCs instead of desktop PCs, Smart Phones and Notebooks.
    The new Enterprise Architecture will be based upon Web connections and Mobility. It will Include Data Centers as well as Clouds and various types of thinner and more user friendly End Devices.
    The real questions are: Will the future End Devices be "decedents" of Smart Phones or new generations of IPad?
    I am not sure we will not have a mix of different types, some of them similar to Smart Phones with extended capabilities and some of them more advanced IPad like devices. I tend to think that as far as enterprises are concerned Smart Phones including some of IPad capabilities, such as bigger screens will be the mainstream and IPad will have marginal effect. The main reason is: almost every one is using Cellular phone, while smaller number of people are using IPads or other Tablets and Notebook machines.
    Todd, I am not sure that the Man-machine communication mechanism, will be Touch Screen or Keyboard based. I think that the Long Term future mechanism will probably be Voice based.
    For more information read my post: Do we need a Consumer Operating System

  • I believe it will have a huge impact, especially if the price comes down. What the iPad legitimizes is a lighter weight (lower computing power) platform for interacting with applications that are primarily hosted in the cloud. It should not be compared with ultra-small net-books which offer a complete laptop capability in a small, and often inexpensive package. The problem with running windows is that it is serious overkill for a tablet which really only needs a web browser. Google Chrome, the browser-come-operating-system, is an excellent contender in this market.

    I imagine a doctor carrying one around a hospital, to quickly enter observations and prescribe treatments into the hospital case management system. A lawyer carrying one to hearings to access background material and to enter a few notes (but NOT for wordprocessing). An executive carrying one to meetings for quick access to corporate dashboards. A salesman carrying a presentation around, checking task lists, and writing small notes about a meeting. These are all activities where a full blown laptop would be overkill. But a device with a long battery life, and no background processing capabilities, has a place.

    Such a device is perfect for Facebook. It is fine for Twitter. Perfect for linked in, and Google. All of those services that run outside of the laptop would greatly benefit from a inexpensive, highly portable, and stylish way to access them. At $500, this is a real option, and if quantities get the price lower, it could have a huge effect.

  • A technology distraction for enterprises in my opinion. I believe the ability to manipulate interesting applications (think of 3D CAD diagrams for example) with a drag of a finger, rather than the indirect drag of a mouse, has enormous potential. But I don't believe that this level of power or meaningful apps will come from the iPad. A touch iMac, maybe.

    I blogged about some of my ideas for applications that could benefit (but never will) at: http://blog.consected.com/2010/01/apple-tablet-technology-distraction.html

    Building on Forrester's theme of the Splinternet, I also blogged about how the proprietary nature of the device is also a limitation. Developers are not going to invest a huge amount of time building applications limited to a single device, unless they see a huge market for them. A million kids buy applications at 2.99. A hundred businesses re-buy apps they already own on PCs for 100 bucks. Its not going to work financially to build more than games and read newspapers.



  • I have a simple rule-of-thumb when evaluating any discussion of use cases for cut-down devices in the enterprise. Disregard anyone who talks about what *other* people might use the device for. Listen up if anyone says, 'I'll definitely use this *myself* for [xyz]'.

  • A question that Apple probably doesn't care about at the moment as they are very B2C focused.

    However I do believe that the iPad (and other siumilar devices) have a role to play in peope-centric side of BPM.

    This is discussed more fully in my blog iPad debate is missing the (business) point. There is a real use for it http://is.gd/7NsIA

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    Mobility, mobility, mobility!

    I think Todd, Avi, and Keith are getting close to the answer here, but the vision has to be broader. Ask Keith's doctor on rounds, a factory Kanban practitioner, a building inspector, a field geologist, or anyone else whose job takes them *amay from a desk* what a mobile device means for them. Many of these professionals are already using a mobile device of some kind, and the idea of a device that is always connected, reasonably powerful, GPS-aware, lightweight, with long battery life, and touch sensitive is a real winner. Add in the iPad style, iPhone apps compatibility, and durability (I see a titanium case with flip-lid and touch-screen protector), and you have a real trendsetter.

    The other interesting point that Keith started on is apps in the cloud. I don't think you need the cloud itself, but having the app "somewhere else" with a web interface means you can connect and collaborate while away. Think of a high-powered BPM solution for a mobile service person, where they can look for more repair details, order parts, connect to a guru, upload error codes, etc, all from a small tablet.

    Lots of possibilities here, whether it ends up being the iPad itself or a whole colection of similar devices running browsers, GPS-aware apps, and local apps.

  • user-pic

    Information&Interaction Book

    For sure it does. The most important piece on adapting such device on enterprise interaction is human perception on these deviced adapted to a new stage of learning and colaboration across organization. I was taking part 1 year ago to some research focused on this subject and through it we developed various use cases about it. I can tell you that one of the most important industry where such product will give value is healtcare.

  • Gentlemen,

    I am, perhaps unfortunately, old enough to remember those who said that personal computers would have little impact on enterprise IT. Enough said.

  • Great debate. I had blogged about this myself a few days ago - iPad, SaaS and Collaboration. I think the iPad will somewhat follow the pattern of the iPhone - a user driven impact on enterprise IT.

    People like it, it catches on, and they also want to use it for business purposes. If the iPad really catches on, I think it'll be another positive impetus for adoption of SaaS.


  • There's a couple of other things Apple needs to do before the Ipad can fulfill its potential - 1st make the thing multi-tasking else it's just too much of a pain - the second (and this may be an after market opportunity) Apple needs to provide a specific AppStore for corporations - so that they can build and deploy applications to suit their needs. Do that and it's job done

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